Istituto Oikos, a non-profit organisation operating in Europe, Asia and Africa, has been awarded the project ‘Saving water, growing crops’. The aim of the project is the promotion of an innovative irrigation technology that is expected to bring significant water savings in the target agricultural areas within the Shouf Biosphere Reserve (SBR) in Lebanon, thus enhancing the target communities’ resilience to the water-related effects of climate change.

Due to climate change, a reduction of 6 to 8% of the total volume of its water resources, including those for agricultural irrigation, has been recorded. Therefore, a significant reduction in grain production with obvious consequences for the income of the local population is predicted.

In order to address water scarcity, the project has introduced a remote-controlled irrigation system ‘Blue Tentacles’, an innovative technology conceived by the University of Trento. Already successfully tested in northern Italy, this solution consists of an automated irrigation system that analyzes data from a local weather station, satellite images and sensors inserted into the ground to measure the degree of humidity and temperature. The different data collected are translated into an algorithm that allows to calibrate the amount of water, thus saving in vital resources like water and energy: a minimum saving of 30% in water and 20% in energy is expected.

The first step, for adopting this technology, is the collection of information on selected lands, with the active participation of local farmers. This phase will be followed by the restructuring of the existing irrigation infrastructure and the installation of the irrigation system. Technical and practical trainings will allow farmers and local government technicians to learn how the system works.  The project could be replicated in similar contexts in the region, where the incidence of climate changes effects is often accompanied by a chronic water scarcity.

A wide communication campaign will promote the benefits of ‘Blue Tentacle’s and its adoption. Once the new technology will be largely promoted, workshops will be organized at national level to disseminate good practices and lessons learned, with technical recommendations for future use.